CHANDIGARH: In a show of strength, the newly-appointed Punjab Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu gathered 62 Congress MLAs at his residence in Amritsar on Wednesday, including four cabinet ministers.
Sidhu will formally take charge of the state Congress unit at a function held in Chandigarh on Friday.
Three of the four ministers who visited Sidhu’s residence—Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria had helped topple then Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa in 2015 by siding with Amarinder. Charanjit Singh Channi is the other cabinet minister who went to Sidhu’s house.
Meanwhile, with his loyalists meeting Sidhu, pressure mounted on CM Capt Amarinder Singh to meet his former protégé. A few party leaders have urged him patch up with Sidhu. “If Amarinder can meet Partap Singh Bajwa and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who had also passed personal comments on him, then he should also meet and pardon Sidhu. We will not allow anyone to split the party,” Randhawa said.
Pargat Singh, an MLA, questioned the chief minister’s decision to demand an apology from Sidhu at a time when people are giving him a rousing welcome. On differences between Sidhu and Amarinder, MLA Madan Lal Jalalpur said, “There is no need for Sidhu to apologise.
He is now the president of the State Congress unit. Why should he apologise? It is right that he should respect the Chief Minister, but for what should he apologise? The Chief Minister should welcome Sidhu with open arms. The CM also met Pratap Singh Bajwa who had been speaking against him. Amarinder’s advisers are not guiding him properly.”
Jalalpur added that Congress will win next year’s Assembly elections because of Sidhu. “Today, entire Punjab wants him. There is great enthusiasm among party workers after Sidhu’s elevation. Our vote share will certainly go up,” he said.